You know what makes me grumpy? All the Grumpy Old Men who appeared on the BBC TV series were younger than me, that's what makes me grumpy. Mutter, mutter....

The Grumpy Old Artist

The Grumpy Old Artist
Would YOU pose for this man???

Exhibition Poster

Exhibition Poster
Catterline Event, 2011

Oil Painting by Jim Tait

Oil Painting by Jim Tait
Helford River, Cornwall

Oil Painting by Jim Tait

Oil Painting by Jim Tait
Full-riggers "Georg Stage" and "Danmark"

Other Recent Works

Other Recent Works
Fordyce Castle and Village

Hay's Dock, Lerwick

Shetland-model Boats at Burravoe, Yell

Tall Ships Seascape

The Tour Boat "Dunter III", with Gannets, off Noss

The "Karen Ann II" entering Fraserburgh harbour

Summer Evening, Boyndie Bay

1930s Lerwick Harbour

Johnshaven Harbour

"Seabourn Legend"

Greeting Cards!

Greeting Cards!
Now Available in Packs of Five or in Assorted Sets of Four

Sunday, 26 October 2008


When people in Shetland, as, it is said, in the rest of the UK, meet, the first topic of conversation is usually the weather. This has certainly been the case this week, as the islands have been battered by a rapid succession of severe gales, occasionally reaching storm force. Yesterday afternoon it reached violent storm magnitude, which was a little scary at times. The wind, which, in a "normal" gale, howls, rumbles and whistles, took to shaking and buffeting in an alarming fashion. There has been damage, even before Saturday's tempest. Power supplies have been interrupted, and transport links have been badly affected. All Northlink ferries, which provide the "lifeline" service between these islands and the Scottish mainland, had their sailings cancelled on Friday and Saturday. My brother, who picked the wrong time to pay a visit north to the place of his birth and childhood, has been caught up in the disruption, and, as I write this, it is with sadness that I watch the ferry, on which he is a passenger, disappearing over the horizon through the weather window. His visit was all too short.

Work has progressed much as normal. I finished my amendments to the picture of the old Aberdeen trawler "Headway" approaching Lerwick harbour in a gale (rather appropriate for this week!), and I think it will now pass muster. I have been making further progress, with the forthcoming Duff House exhibition in mind, on two more fishing vessel paintings. Both are of old Buckie seine-netters, one, the "Avoca", again approaching Lerwick harbour, but viewed from a completely different angle, with the Ness of Sound in the background. The other is of the "Sirius" leaving Aberdeen Harbour. This one requires quite a lot of detail in the background buildings, which is time-consuming and eye-straining, but, I believe, worth the extra time and effort. Actually, I find this kind of work easy and relaxing, in comparison with the difficulty of constructing sea waves.

As is normally the case on his visits, my brother and I found ourselves doing some work at our mother's house at Whiteness. On Friday morning, he pruned back the roses, in the greenhouse, almost to the roots, and planted a couple of new yellow ones he had brought with him at my request. The greenhouse needs a touch of gold! There's plenty of red, pink, mauve and white, with the fuchsias, pelargoniums, geraniums and the established roses. I helped by bagging up the pruned material for disposal. In the afternoon, we loaded the boot of his hired car with as much of the rubbish, which had accumulated in the garage over the past two years, as it would hold, and made a trip to the Shetland Islands Council's state-of-the-art disposal unit at Rova Head, north of Lerwick. There's still a trailer-load of rubbish left in the garage, but at least we've made a start.

Could it be the case that the financial constraints, which now have the country in their grasp, are driving advertising executives to desperate means to secure copy for the various publications they work for? In the run-up to Christmas, I am being offered all kinds of deals, and I am advertising in magazines, the cost of copy in which I would have thought completely beyond my means last year. Look out for Tait Gallery small ads, in monthlies with a nautical flavour, in the run-up to the festive season.

I observe, from the Met Office's website, that the weather is to be a bit quieter (and colder) this incoming week. I will find this a welcome change from the storms of the past week, and will keep you posted on this, work in progress, and events in the Shetland Islands.

Sunday, 19 October 2008


Many people have tried to find the Tait Gallery, and most have failed. It's situated in a 2nd floor flat, at the top of a stairwell accessed through a back door in a rather plain-looking building in a minor street in Lerwick. To get from the street to the access door, one must first open a gate, which is normally barred by my neighbours to keep their two small dogs from escaping. Last summer only two rather breathless and dishevelled Swedish cruise-ship passengers made it through to the gallery, to be rewarded (I hope!) by a tour of my artwork. This summer only one German visitor reached it, and only because he had the presence of mind to phone me first, so that I was looking out for him when he arrived. As a consequence of my inaccessibility, I do most of my business either online or through exhibitions elsewhere.

This week at the Tait Gallery was one of new beginnings and revisits to old projects, either to scrap them entirely, or change them in some minor way. I have a permanent little display at the Lounge pub here in Lerwick and, from time to time, I replenish this, putting new works up and taking others away for adjustments large or small. On this occasion, such an adjusted work has been my depiction of the Aberdeen trawler "Headway" approaching Lerwick harbour in a gale (like the one which is blowing tonight!). I'll put it up on this blog when I've finished, which, hopefully, will be tomorrow. A complete transformation is being carried out on a disappointing effort of two Whalsay drifters steaming along in the open sea on parallel courses, viewed from the side. I can't remember what my original idea for this work was, but the plan clearly failed! I've scrapped the work entirely, and a new picture is emerging in its place, featuring a mixture of landscape, seascape and an inevitable fishing boat. I've also started a new work of another fishing vessel leaving Aberdeen harbour. All that and the changes to my studio furnishings have meant a busy week at the Tait Gallery. I hope next week is equally productive.

Saturday, 18 October 2008


This song title, to which I have yet to append an appropriate song, is available for a reasonable consideration to anyone who wants to use it, assuming it hasn't been used already. It came to me as my sister and I were on our way from Strand to Whiteness today, just before midday. It was typical bright Shetland autumn weather, with torrential rain showers driven on a strong westerly wind. The rainbow was almost an hourly feature. We had been to my sister's place to pick up a table, which is now surplus to her requirements, due to her ongoing household refurbishments (and, thanks to this table, the worktop in my studio is now much bigger). We were driving out to visit our mother for elevenses (known as "twal" in these parts), when the rainbow straddled the road ahead, and the phrase came into my mind.

Earlier this week, I spent some time at my mother's place, helping her with various things around the house. She is 92 years of age, and, although badly disabled with arthritis, she is still able, with the support of her family and the care agencies, to stay in the house which my late father had built for their retirement over 35 years ago. She still has all her mental faculties about her, and her wisdom and guidance are still of great value to me. My father, who, for most of my childhood and early adulthood, was headmaster of a junior secondary school, died in 1996 at the age of 85, and mother has lived on alone in the house ever since. My sisters and I give her whatever help we can, and we all enjoy getting together whenever opportunity allows, as it did today.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Bloodthirsty Monsters!

My oldest (of three) sister dropped by this morning for a cuppa, and told me a tale of woe. Her grandson's pet rabbit, which he adored, had had its throat torn out by an unknown predator, and that he had suffered the shock of making the gruesome discovery himself, when he went out to visit the rabbit hutch yesterday morning. He was inconsolable, the poor little lad, and would only be slightly comforted by his grandfather's practical suggestions as to how vengeance might be sought against the perpetrator of this awful deed!
My sister was mystified as to how the beast had gained access to the inside of the well-built rabbit hutch. They looked all round it for a point of entry from above, below and round the sides and found none. They assumed that it had been a polecat (of which there are many in these islands) which had done the damage. But, I told her, several things suggested otherwise. Firstly, the fact that the beast had gone for the throat, and had apparently drained the unfortunate bunny of its life-blood. A polecat ferret only eats the liver of its prey, and liver is the bait one uses in traps for catching these animals. Secondly, the fact that there was no point of entry.
I think the culprit is the "whitrit", as the weasel is called here. It is a much smaller and thinner animal, and would be able to enter the hutch through the chicken-wire mesh. It is also more bloodthirsty.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

I finished (I think) the first of the paintings intended for the Duff House exhibition next year. It's a picture of the old Buckie MFV "Crimond", rigged for the herring fishing, rolling through Yell Sound on a dirty morning, with the Ramna Stacks in the background.
That's one done - only another seventeen to go!

A Question

What's the connection between the Shetland Fiddle and Accordion Festival (taking place this weekend at venues around these islands) and the MMR vaccine?
If the MMR vaccine had been available when I was a child, I wouldn't have contracted mumps at age 11, and I wouldn't have permanently lost all hearing in my left ear. This would, in turn, have meant that I could fully enjoy such musical social events as the Fiddle and Accordion Festival. In the company of others, on such occasions, I can listen to the music only to the exclusion of taking part in any conversation which is taking place. This leaves me drifting off into a world of my own, which, in turn, can leave people offended at my apparent dislike of their company. So I tend not to go to such events any more. My social intercourse has no musical accompaniment!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


The light was very bad on Monday and Tuesday, so I was unable to carry out any detailed artwork. As the rain saturated these islands, I concentrated on applying broad brushwork to two seascapes with which I have been dissatisfied ever since I created them three or four years ago. The sea is now more plausible than it was, although I can't guarantee that I won't get annoyed with it again at some future date.

Each sea-wave has to be constructed carefully, tying in properly with the one in front of it and the one coming after. It all has to fit, and form a moving organic whole, bearing in mind the weather conditions I am trying to create. If ever I write an autobiography, I'm going to call it "Making Waves"!

Today, with the better light, I have been doing some detailed work on the first of the pictures which are intended for the Duff House exhibition next year. The event is going to be a nostalgic look at the fishing fleets, from the towns and villages of the Moray Firth, which worked the Shetland grounds, drift-netting for herring in the summer months and seine-netting for white-fish for the rest of the year. These were the vessels which first fired my enthusiasm for all things nautical in my youth, and which have fascinated and inspired me ever since.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

September 2008

September 2008 was an interesting month. At its beginning, I had no exhibitions of my artwork planned for 2009. By its end I had two. The first is booked for da Gadderie at Shetland Museum in February, while the second is at Duff House, near Banff, from late June through to August. However, with the finanacial world imploding around our ears, will anyone have any money left to buy paintings by then? It's a worry....